COUNCILLORS in Cork are urging local authorities to start employing more apprentices, claiming that current low staffing levels have left the council at 'crisis point'.
The matter was raised by elected members in both Cork County and Cork City Councils at recent meetings.
Sinn Féin county councillor Eoin Jeffers called on the local authority to establish a programme of direct employment for qualified tradespeople.
He encouraged the local authority to engage with third level institutes in Cork in a bid to fill employment gaps in the council's roster.
"There is no secret that Cork County Council are short-staffed in many essential areas," he said.
The council is reliant on outsourcing to private contractors, a move described as 'not sustainable' by the Sinn Féin representative.
Mr Jeffers said that the recruitment of tradespeople such as plumbers, plasterers and masons could ensure a better delivery of service for council tenants.
Council officials said that the government's recently launched plan to expand traineeships and apprenticeships in Ireland will 'develop new apprenticeships' alongside existing programmes, such as the SOLAS scheme, under which the Council currently employs staff.
The issue of employment at Cork County Council has come to a head in recent weeks, with SIPTU members voting for industrial action over the failure of management to replace retiring staff.
Union officials have criticised the local authority for relying on outsourcing contracts.